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Colts WRs take different routes to new offense

Darrius Heyward-Bey spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Indianapolis Colts. (Associated Press file photo)
Darrius Heyward-Bey spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders before joining the Indianapolis Colts. (Associated Press file photo)

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For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Wayne and Heyward-Bey both learning the Pep way

Thursday, May 02, 2013 12:01 am
INDIANAPOLIS – Reggie Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey entered 2013 from vastly different starting points. But they're running the same offseason route now.Wayne, 34, is the Indianapolis Colts' top receiver and a regular All-Pro candidate. Heyward-Bey, 26, is working on a one-year deal and trying to prove that his first-round draft pick status with the Oakland Raiders four years ago still speaks to his potential production.

Yet here they are, the vet and the starting job candidate, both spending a month in the spring time learning a foreign offense with new coordinator Pep Hamilton.

“The offensive guys seem to be picking it up pretty fast – faster than last year, so that's good,” Wayne said Wednesday. “That's why this is a good time to get in the playbook, get a lot of classroom work. Then get on the field whenever we're allowed to get on the field and build some chemistry.

“It's not too bad, as long as you gain something every day and move forward.”

Among Wayne's edges on Heyward-Bey is his year spent working with Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, learning the subtleties that quarterbacks and receivers appreciate but fans don't necessarily see.

“Andrew is familiar with a lot of the guys,” Heyward-Bey said. “I'm just trying to fit in as much as I can out on the field. He has certain ways he likes to throw the ball and I have certain ways I run routes that's a little different maybe than what they've done here in the past and he did at Stanford. We're trying to get on the same page. But that's football. Thirty-two teams are going through the same issues with a new quarterback and receiver (combination).”

Heyward-Bay, who caught 140 passes for 2,071 yards in four seasons in Oakland, said joining the Colts has made him feel younger than he has in years. He entered the NFL after his junior season at the University of Maryland, became a starter and was the “leader” of the Raiders receiving corps by his second season.

“I became an old guy at age 23,” Heyward-Bey said.

He didn't have a veteran mentor like Wayne when he came into the league, and he says he appreciates what he can learn Wayne now. “I was young, then old, now I'm young again,” Heyward-Bey said.

Wayne, who has over 13,000 receiving yards in 12 years, isn't necessarily a big talker on the practice field. He's more talkative than the man he followed, Marvin Harrison, but both set an example of preparation and work. The only times Wayne misses a practice is when coaches essentially order him to sit one out.

Heyward-Bey said he first talked to Wayne when he entered the draft in 2009, as Wayne reached out on behalf of his agent. Then, when Heyward-Bey was released by the Raiders and became a free agent, Wayne talked to him again.

“I'm adjusting well; this is a friendly locker room,” Heyward-Bey said. “They make it easy to come in and fit in. We have a great group of receivers and to have a vet like Reggie come in, then have Andrew to cap that off. It's a great experience so far. I've only been here three weeks but it's looking good.”

Wayne said he is still working to continue to develop his rapport with Luck. Although Luck and Wayne connected on 106 passes for 1,355 yards last season, Wayne said they aren't yet at an “A-plus” in quarterback-receiver trust.

Hamilton's new offense is another facet to embrace. This will be Wayne's third offense and coordinator in three years.

“I take my hat off to those guys who learn new offenses every year,” Wayne said. “This is giving me some gray hairs. I won't get tired out of boredom. There's always something new to learn.”

Regardless of the offense, the spring workouts can help players find areas to improve, Heyward-Bey said.

“You can get better each and every day,” Heyward-Bey said. “Coach (Chuck) Pagano said today to Adam Vinatieri, who's been in the league (17) years, 'Can't you work on something to be better?' Me, as a receiver, there's always something I can get better at, and you work on that in the offseason.

“I think we're picking up the offense pretty well,” Heyward-Bey said. “It's a real dynamic type of offense.”

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For more on the Colts, follow Reggie Hayes via Twitter at www.twitter.com/reggiehayes1

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